Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×

Comment This is exactly what I was looking for... (Score 1) 177

Just prop it up on a stand, obviously add a keyboard and a mouse, and it's exactly what I wanted in 1988, when I was 8 years old.

It took me another few years to get a great desk, but it was worth the wait.

To be clear, I'm still using the 11 foot long solid wood desk, but my AT machine -- 12" screen, 20MB of HDD -- is missing in action, absent without leave, and lost across moves.

Comment Ah, the public street (Score 2) 258

This whole not-expecting-privacy-on-a-public-street is as laughable as it's always been. There's a missing concept here.

It's not about PRIVACY. It's about RECORDING.

You don't expect privacy when you're talking to a friend in public either. But it's illegal to record the audio of that conversation without permission.

It's the difference between expert testimony (i.e. video evidence) and heresay. One's convincing, always, while the other is completely inadmissable as evidence -- which is a good thing.

Surprisingly, I'm not actually against all of this scanning for data. I'm only against keeping that data in the absence of a crime.

Scan the cars, check the plates, see that it's fine, destroy the data. Let's say within 5 business days. No aggregates, no data-based stats (number of scans made by the truck is fine, number of blue cars is not).

"NO CRIME = NO RECORD", plain and simple.

Comment Happened to me (Score 2) 47

In March, of this year, that's exactly what happened to my servers. It took a few hours to narrow down the traffic logs to find the excess load, and then it became quite obvious, based on the user agent, that it was nothing more than a bittorrent swarm.

The nice part is that it's easily blocked by user-agent -- which isn't something that the original attacker can control.

Comment The history of stupid (Score 5, Insightful) 158

First, an inventor invented invented a pipe, and installed it, and it was found to leak. Then a plumber improved the pipe and re-installed it, and would never leak again.

Then a new-age company said they could build a cheaper pipe to save costs. It was installed, and it leaked only sometimes. Then a plumber figured out precisely how often it would leak, and designed a maintenance plan to prevent it from leaking, so the leaking would never be a problem again.

Then an accountant saw the money being spent on maintenance of a pipe that didn't leak, and reduced the maintenance until it started to leak.

Now, a new-age company is offering to invent and build and install billions of sensors on the pipe, to see when it's leaking, so we'll know when to perform the maintenance.

It'll work great. Not only will we know exactly when to send out the maintenance crew -- i.e. pretty close to the same rate as when the plumber designed the maintenance plan the first time, because he wasn't stupid -- but we'll spend more money on the sensors than we will on the pipe.

As my mother's always said. You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. So the pipe will be cheap, and the maintenance will be occasional, and the sensors will be amazing.

And then we'll save money on the sensors.

And then we'll have a maintenance plan for the sensors.

And then we'll start monitoring the sensors.

It's turtles all the way down.

Anyone remember how much the high quality pipe that didn't leak in the first place cost? I didn't think so.

Comment Couldn't it make things worse? (Score 1) 234

I know nothing, but when I put a ball into a bowl of water, it naturally rolls around in the gentle current. Like a ball-point pen, the ball picks up some water, spreading it over the ball.

Wouldn't that thin layer over a sunny ball evaporate faster? And would the over-all wet-ball surface simply be a larger surface area than the otherwise planar surface -- also contributing to greater evaporation?

And if the entire body of water is only good enough for 3 weeks of water, then isn't this kind of "conservation", by reducing the evaporation of water into the atmosphere just completely insignificant? Should they be focussing on getting more water -- i.e. rain?

Comment Blame your phone (Score 1) 89

So, you remain in one place, silent, immobilized, inactive, and unconcious for 6 to 10 contiguous hours each and every single day of your life. But that's not enough down-time for your phucking phone.

Maybe, just maybe, you should throw out your shitty phone, and get one that can last as long as you can.

Comment Re:Think taxes, not taxis (Score 1) 247

You might want to put your name to your arguments, if you think them worthy of anything at all. But I'm not surprised that you don't stand behind your arguments. According to you, nothing in Canada is regulated, limited, or restricted competition at all. Oh wait, you're an idiot.

Canada isn't a small town. Small towns don't have this particular problem.

Maybe you ought to stop taking economics classes, and stop researching what other people have already searched. Maybe, instead, you ought to actually do some first-hand observations, do your own measurements, and see what's actually true.

Remeber when your "classes" told you that the three primary colours are red, yellow, and blue? They lied, flat out.

Comment Re:Think taxes, not taxis (Score 1) 247

Sometimes real-world things have real-world costs. Prices can't fall below costs. So if a taxi winds up only making $1 per hour, it can't operate. Since you need to buy a car, and you need to keep it maintained, lowering prices can mean lowering car safety too.

In a physically huge region like Toronto, with traffic like Toronto, let's pretend that no one takes a taxi when they could walk faster. And since there's traffic, that mean the only time a taxi is used is for very long distances that exit or enter the core. That means airport, since no one takes a taxi to another city.

So you wind up with a situation where the only way a taxi can truly profit is to have enough airport runs to offset the crappy small stuff in-between.

But there are only so many airport runs to be had. Divide that by the number of taxis operating on a given day, and you have "your share". More taxis, lower prices, "your share" is worth less.

At some point, "your share", which is the same as everyone else's share, simply becomes too small to be worthwhile. So you stop operating.

But you don't stop on day 1. You hope on day 1. It's day 366 when you stop, bankrupt. And so does everyone else.

And you aren't a taxi driver. You are a taxi service. So you fire a few thousand drivers. Your "competition" closes doors too, because it isn't profitable to run a taxi service anymore, and he's got another side business to kickstart.

There isn't enough business to have prices change smoothly. So they change suddenly. That dumps owners pretty quickly.

Your economics curves are smooth, with infinite data points. Now picture the same curve with three data points, and you see the triangle spike that it is.

Remember, 10% of the population, 10 times the geography, half the history.

Comment Re:Think taxes, not taxis (Score 1) 247

Toronto is 6 million people over 40'000 square kilometres. And in all of canada, that's the only city anywhere near that density.

Our radio stations are restricted for the same reason -- not enough listeners to go around. Same with our telecom companies -- cable, cellphone, internet -- for the same reasons.

You're just incorrect. Too much competition can easily kill any big industry with a limited market. That's exactly what we are.

And in many ways, it's a great thing. That's why we have high speed internet in the most remote locations -- because the very same regulation that limits competition forces companies to invest in remote areas, not just in Toronto.

Think of the alternative: no telecom company would ever build infrastructure in northern Alberta for the 1 person per square kilometre. Think about that. What company would have wired a kilometre of cable to a single house? Or a cell-tower for a single house?

Canada is way more than Toronto, even though the population and tourism often is not.

Comment Think taxes, not taxis (Score 3, Insightful) 247

Uber isn't paying Ontario taxes. Their entire "distinct business model" will quickly fall apart the moment they become forced to pay things like sales taxes.

It's not just the taxes themselves. Around here, paying taxes means you're regulated, and being regulated means that the government is responsible for the public safety surrounding you.

So the moment Uber gets forced to pay sales taxes, is the moment that they are forced to control their drivers, is the moment their drivers become employees, is the moment they get to pay employment taxes, is the moment they get to safety-certify the vehicles, is the moment their "distinct business model" needs to raise prices to cover all of the added expense.

That will take them half-way to taxi fares. What people don't know is that the big expensive taxi licence isn't simply a money-grab. It's specifically to reduce the number of taxis. Around here, we regulate in order to reduce competition. With a tenth the population of the USA, and even lower population density, there simply isn't enough business out there to support the number of taxis that would set out to try.

Unlike in the USA, where too much competition would eventually result in a natural balance, around here it results in an entire industry going belly-up -- i.e. no taxis at all.

So, the moment that Uber is large enough to compete in the full market, that market won't be big enough to support Uber, taxis, and the next new Uber-like competitor that would be able to destroy Uber instantly simply because they will be newer. And as a result of that market-is-too-small-to-support-the-low-cost-of-entry, we artificially raise the cost-of-entry with a nice expensive licence.

But hey, electric cars are cheaper because they don't pay gas prices...which are most road taxes. Do you honestly think that in a world of everyone-drives-an-electric-vehicle that there won't be road taxes?

Welcome to new "distinct business models". They work only while they are new. That's the distinct part.

Comment Re:Does the update improve my LIFE? (Score 1) 319

I'm afraid that you've misread my entire post. I was never talking about the benefits of the features to the user at all. I wasn't talking about whether or not I use them, nor whether or not they exist. I was talking ONLY about whether or not they are worth UPGRADING the OS, as an intrusive effort.

I won't take an existing machine, and upgrade the OS just because a new set of features is available -- because, as you've said, they are only incremental improvements, and hence are worth nothing individually.

I did say that I get the latest OS with each new computer. As a result, I am currently using four different OSes across four differently aged computers.

The new features are not worth upgrading for. They are worth purchasing.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith